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Richard Feynman

Video: The Pleasure of Finding Things Out

Posted Nov 18, 2008

First airing on BBC TV show ‘Horizon’ in 1981 (rebroadcast in the states via PBS ‘Nova’) this hour long documentary by Christopher Sykes is a beautiful and personal look at one of our greatest minds. Higher quality version in 5 parts on Youtube.

The full transcript is available on Amazon. Used copies cost a penny.

Feynman on 'The Beauty of a Flower':

I have a friend who's an artist and he's some times taken a view which I don't agree with very well. He'll hold up a flower and say, "look how beautiful it is," and I'll agree, I think. And he says, "you see, I as an artist can see how beautiful this is, but you as a scientist, oh, take this all apart and it becomes a dull thing." And I think he's kind of nutty. First of all, the beauty that he sees is available to other people and to me, too, I believe, although I might not be quite as refined aesthetically as he is. But I can appreciate the beauty of a flower. At the same time, I see much more about the flower that he sees. I could imagine the cells in there, the complicated actions inside which also have a beauty. I mean, it's not just beauty at this dimension of one centimeter: there is also beauty at a smaller dimension, the inner structure...also the processes. The fact that the colors in the flower are evolved in order to attract insects to pollinate it is interesting -- it means that insects can see the color. It adds a question -- does this aesthetic sense also exist in the lower forms that are...why is it aesthetic, all kinds of interesting questions which a science knowledge only adds to the excitement and mystery and the awe of a flower. It only adds. I don't understand how it subtracts.